Man accused of raping, murdering Trinity University cheerleader indicted by grand jury

Mark Phillip Howerton, 22, facing multiple charges including murder

SAN ANTONIO – Less than two months since 22-year-old Mark Phillip Howerton turned himself in to authorities for the death of a Trinity University cheerleader last year, a grand jury indicted Howerton on multiple charges Thursday afternoon.

A Bexar County grand jury indicted Howerton for the murder of 19-year-old Cayley Mandadi, who was found unresponsive and taken to a hospital in Luling on Oct. 30.

Howerton was also indicted for aggravated sexual assault and criminal mischief.

On the day of Mandadi’s death, emergency medical services personnel contacted Luling police after noticing she was brought to the hospital nude from the waist down and had bruises on her neck and thigh.

RELATED: Trinity University cheerleader brutally raped, killed by boyfriend, authorities say

A day later, authorities questioned Howerton, who told them that he and Mandadi had partied over the weekend, drinking a lot of whiskey and taking the party drug molly Oct. 28 and 29 during a festival in San Antonio.

Howerton told authorities that they argued over Mandadi’s ex-boyfriend Oct. 29 and left the festival only to later discuss the matter during their car ride to Houston.

During their drive to Houston, they stopped at a Valero gas station just outside of San Antonio where they had sex in the car, Howerton told investigators.

According to an arrest warrant, Howerton stated that the sex was consensual and “rough,” admitting he knew about the bruises around Mandadi’s neck.

RELATED: Death of Trinity University student under investigation

Howerton told investigators that Mandadi said she wasn’t feeling well and passed out in the passenger seat without her clothes on as he continued to drive to Houston.

Just before getting to Luling, he noticed Mandadi stopped breathing and attempted to do CPR before taking her to the hospital, Howerton told investigators.

A nurse at the hospital was advised that tests showed Mandadi was most likely brain dead.

An Oct. 30 autopsy showed that Mandadi’s only areas with no evidence of injury were her back and the back of her leg. She was taken off life support Oct. 30. 

About the Authors:

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio since 2016. His work for KSAT 12 and includes covering breaking news of the day, as well as producing Q&As and content for the "South Texas Pride" and "KSAT Money" series.